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French Bieres de garde are a little-known treat

FranceThe lowland region of Northern France known as French Flanders is the home of bieres de garde, (beers to keep, implying ones to be laid down until needed). These traditional country ales usually showcase subtle and complex malt characteristics, with brewers blending combinations of malted barley in creative ways. Subtlety also marks the use of hops, which are used to balance the malt sweetness and not to provide bitterness. Many of these ales are cold-conditioned (lagered), which tends to smooth the edges of the traditional ale flavor profile. Others are yeasty in the manner of better known Belgian ales.

While these beers are perfectly fine for unaccompanied drinking, they're far better with food, and they finally may be receiving the attention they deserve. Two guidebooks have been published recently: The Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA's) "The Good Beer Guide to Northern France" and "The Beers of France" by Woods & Rigley, authors of the amazing "Beers of Wallonia." These overdue books are welcome additions to the traveler's beer library.

As for other French beers, most are forgettable golden lagers. These seem to exist for no other reason than to antagonize British real ale aficionados, who are infuriated by typically obtuse rules that allow "lager louts" to bring into England huge amounts of cheap French canned lager without paying duty.

However, the area around Strasbourg in western France produces some good lagers on a vaguely German model, like Fischer Amber.

Web resources are scant. Here's two:


U.S.
U.S.

Belgium
Belgium

England
England

France
France

Germany
Germany

Scotland
Scotland

Ireland
Ireland

Swiss
Swiss

Czech
Czech

Austria
Austria

Europe
Europe

World
World Beers

 

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 3312 Plaza Drive
 New Albany, IN 47150
 (812) 949-2804
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